Dogs have been active in the military and law enforcement for hundreds of years at this point in time. This has led to a lot of people assuming that these animals have a natural immunity to tear gas.
In case you don’t know yet, tear gas is a chemical typically employed to control crowds and known to cause pain and irritation in the eyes, throat, and nose of humans. To be specific, exposure to tear gas can lead to vision difficulties, heavy watering of the eyes, vomiting, diarrhea, and respiratory problems.
Pepper spray and Mace are considered types of tear gas as well as they have been in use to ward off predatory animals like wildcats and bears. Civilians also like to use them as a self-defense measure.
Composition of Tear Gas
Tear gas, sometimes called CS gas or lachrymator agent, is a chemical compound typically deployed to control riots or disperse enemies. It is composed of three primary elements: nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. They are released once the canister has been opened to cause inflammation among those in its area of effect.
Humans and Tear Gas
While not lethal, excessive exposure to tear gas has been known to leave lasting effects on the body. Those with preexisting respiratory ailments such as asthma might require hospitalization and ventilation.
It is also possible to suffer from eye injuries when exposed to too much of it. This might result in corneal scarring, which can cause permanent visual acuity loss. Bearing these things in mind, you should be even more worried if your dog has been exposed to tear gas.
Dogs and Tear Gas
K-9 dogs are intimidating since they are always spotted with authorities in public places where riots and protests occur. Due to this, many people are under the assumption that they don’t react to tear gas. Despite this, dogs are actually affected by tear gas and pepper spray as well.
The irritants also attack their mucous membranes and cause coughing, sneezing, eye pain, crying, respiratory difficulty, and even momentary blindness. As a matter of fact, the impact on them might even be greater for a variety of reasons.
Why They Experience Severe Effects
Dogs have olfactory lobes that are much bigger than ours. This is the part of the brain that deserves credit for its acute sense of smell. Due to their size, dogs are able to sniff out drugs, bombs, lost objects, and missing people. In some instances, they have also detected cancer in unsuspecting sufferers.
Dogs also have a huge olfactory epithelium, which has undergone special adaptation. This is the specialized tissue that lines the nasal cavities and has a lot of olfactory neurons that allow them to detect even faint smells.
For the sake of comparison, the human olfactory epithelium only spans 10 sq. cm. of our nasal area. Meanwhile, the equivalent is 170 sq. cm. or so for dogs.
Thanks to their incredible sense of smell, they are much more sensitive to irritants as well. It is likely that dogs experience the same pain several times more than humans when they are exposed to tear gas. Canines have such sensitive noses that some cases have shown dogs bleeding from their noses upon exposure to this substance.
Signs and Symptoms in Dogs
Dogs will experience a range of signs and symptoms based on their size, health, and breed. In general, you can expect dogs to exhibit several, if not all, of the following if they are exposed to tear gas:
- Difficulty breathing
- Erratic behavior
- Excessive salivation
- Failure to move
- Whining, whimpering, and pawing at the face
- Runny and/or bleeding nose
- Cardiac arrest
First Aid Treatment for Dogs after Tear Gas Exposure
You have to consider the health history and symptoms of your dog to understand how best to help them. Generally, here are the best ways to provide relief to a dog who has been exposed to tear gas or pepper spray:
- Provide them with oxygen and fresh water.
- Flush the irritant off their nose, mouth, eyes, and skin using water as a neutralizing agent.
- Administer over-the-counter pain medicine if deemed necessary.
- Get in touch with a veterinarian if the dog experiences severe symptoms such as seizures and cardiac arrest.
We highly recommend taking your dog to the vet as soon as you suspect that the animal has been exposed to the substance. Remember, this gas is known to cause respiratory problems and might even prove to be fatal.
How to Know if your Dog Was Exposed
If you are unsure whether your dog has been exposed to tear gas, follow the steps below:
Check the vitals of your dog to have a quantitative assessment of how they are doing. If they are unusually high or low, you should express concern and take them to the vet.
Monitor General Condition
Watch out for any erratic behavior and reactions. Tear gas is known to irritate the nose, mouth, and lungs. Contact your vet as soon as possible if you notice irritation to these organs.
Dogs who have undergone training for law enforcement and the military might keep their reactions more subdued. Their trained behavior might take over the need to react appropriately. If you are taking care of a dog like that, make sure to keep an even closer eye on them.
Dogs are not immune to the effects of irritants like tear gas and pepper spray. However, those who have undergone a lot of training might not show how badly they really feel. Keep in mind that due to their keen sense of smell, they actually feel worse than humans when exposed to the same substance!
We hope that you now know what to do in case your dog is exposed to tear gas. If you think that there is a possibility that your furry friend will be exposed, make them wear an air filter mask to save them from the harshest effects of the irritant.